Myofascial release works by stretching/loosening the fascia that is tight or adhered. It also stimulates the body’s natural healing process. Tight fascia can exert up to 2000# of pressure/square inch and compresses whatever is underneath it. It may compress a nerve, blood vessel, or muscle. A chiropractic adjustment or a traditional relaxation massage may only provide temporary relief, because it doesn’t address the underlying collagenous layer of the fascia. So if there’s an imbalance around the vertebrae, the vertebra may “slip back out” again. One has to use a sustained pressure that’s gentle and not “forceful” for 3-5 minutes and some gentle “unwinding” (like stretching) of the area in order for the fascia to lengthen. Usually my patients notice a definite improvement in 1-3 sessions. I also instruct them how to incorporate relaxation, breathing, self-stretches, and how to use a foam roll for self-help treatment. I have found personally that once an area is injured, it tends to flare up periodically, and the fascia has a tendency to re-tighten along the original lines of injury. Doing self-treatment, strengthening and flexibility exercises help tremendously, but it may be an on-going process to keep oneself pain-free.
I utilize the John F. Barnes myofascial release approach. The following definition is taken from his website www.myofascialrelease.com.
“Myofascial Release is a safe and very effective hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. This essential “time element” has to do with the viscous flow and the piezoelectric phenomenon: a low load (gentle pressure) applied slowly will allow a viscoelastic medium (fascia) to elongate.
Trauma, inflammatory responses, and/or surgical procedures create Myofascial restrictions that can produce tensile pressures of approximately 2,000 pounds per square inch on pain sensitive structures that do not show up in many of the standard tests (x-rays, myelograms, CAT scans, electromyography, etc.)
The use of Myofascial Release allows us to look at each patient as a unique individual. Our one-on-one therapy sessions are hands-on treatments during which our therapists use a multitude of Myofascial Release techniques and movement therapy. We promote independence through education in proper body mechanics and movement, self treatment instruction, enhancement of strength, improved flexibility, and postural and movement awareness.”